A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .
Patrick Ness is my favorite author.I love his Chaos Walking series to pieces and have so far never been disappointed by anything I’ve read written by him. So my expectations for his new YA book were exceedingly high. And I’m extremely happy to say that once again Patrick Ness made me speechless with another unique story that sucked me in from the start. Thus my review will not do this book justice, you should just get it and read it yourself, but I’ll try anyway.
First there is the topic, the idea for this book. Is there more than this? Is there anything after death? An afterlife maybe? Hell? The story starts with Seth dying, who then wakes up in front of the house where is family used to live. From then on he has to deal with some powerful memories. And then it get’s completely unpredictable. I had an overall clue about what’s going on but there was surprise after surprise, unsuspected detail after detail about this world, about Seth’s life. How Patrick Ness plays with this idea is amazing and got me thinking. And even better: how he ends the story. He chose a way so that his readers can make a decision for themselves. It’s for us to decide what’s real and what’s not and what we think happens after we die.
At first I was surprised at how slow going this was, especially in the beginning. But it perfectly fits the mood of the story and it’s still suspenseful, gripping and has its fast paced moments.
And as always, Patrick Ness knows how to create sad and broken characters. Seth’s first moment we get to read about is his death, him drowning in the ocean. So from page one we get to read about Seth suffering and it’s not getting much better from there on. Through is memories we slowly get to know about his life which was far from a happy one. Every time Seth lived through one of his memories again it broke my heart in tiny little pieces and made me real sad because Seth is such a nice guy and surely deserves better.
Once again Patrick Ness created a story that I fell in love with. A story that is unique, makes you think about life and death and touches you deep down and sometimes nearly breaks your heart with sadness.